The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8: The Back-Up Lens You Should Take Everywhere

The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8: The Back-Up Lens You Should Take Everywhere 1

The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is one of the most affordable FE optics in some way. For just over $200, this 50mm lens offers great features and is a great lens to have as a back-up on a shoot day.

Key Features

  • f/1.8 maximum aperture
  • 50mm focal length 
  • 189g

Lens Design

The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8: The Back-Up Lens You Should Take Everywhere 2

Thanks to its predominantly plastic barrel construction, the FE 50mm f/1.8 only weighs 186g and therefore falls within the lightweight category when it comes to full-frame lenses. The lens is smaller than any Sony FE zoom lens and when attached to an Alpha 7 body it makes a fairly compact and discreet set-up. 

The lens can be used on a Sony E-mount APS-C camera such as the Sony a6300 on which it becomes a 75mm equivalent. However, unlike the Sony APS-C-dedicated E-mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS, there is no optical stabilization on the FE 50mm f/1.8, which makes it a less practical option for users of cropped-sensor cameras. Users of second-generation Alpha 7 cameras will benefit from in-body stabilization and therefore are not affected by the lack of stabilization of the FE 50mm f/1.8.

Autofocus Performance
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8: The Back-Up Lens You Should Take Everywhere 3

The one big issue that is found in the FE 50mm f/1.8 is the focusing speed when using the autofocus. In contrast with other models which use internal high-speed focusing, the FE 50mm f/1.8 racks the entire optical unit back and forth to focus. At its minimum focus distance, the lens extends almost 1cm forward from its infinity position. Whilst it does not pose a problem when focusing manually, it is a major drawback when it comes to autofocusing. 

With static subject, focus accuracy is consistently high. And whilst the autofocus works fine when shooting stills and portraits, it is nearly impossible to shoot moving subject with this lens because of its slow speed. This lens tends to overshoot the mark and then readjust to focus properly, but because of the way it does so, focusing on the subject is sometimes, if not often, too late. 

Image Quality 

Whilst the focusing of the Sony 50mm f/1.8 might be disappointing, its optical quality makes up for it and blows away. Given its price, this light lens produces amazing image quality. It combines attractive focal blur and impressive sharpness. At the widest aperture, it allows for a lot of light to come in but still offers sharp images. 

Distortion and lateral chromatic aberration are non-existent. Out-of-focus backgrounds are usually rendered smoothly. Vignetting is quite visible at f/1.8 but depending on the shot it can help concentrate the attention on the subject. However, when shooting at large aperture there can be some longitudinal chromatic aberration, which shows up as colored fringing around bright highlights. Whilst this can be detrimental to the images and is difficult to remove in post-processing, a lens that does not have longitudinal chromatic aberration cannot be found within this price range. 

How Does It Compare?

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Stm Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
Max Aperture 1.81.8
Weight159g186g
Filter49mm49mm

Conclusion

The 50mm f/1.8 is a great lens to fall back on. Overall the FE 50mm f/1.8 is capable of producing some very nice-looking images. The lens can deliver very decent image quality, sharpness for a very affordable price. This lens costs way less than existing Sony full-frame lenses. However, this comes with drawbacks too, mainly the painfully slow autofocus. 

This makes it hard to fully recommend the lens. However, if you are shooting still objects, landscapes or portraits, this lens can do very well. This is definitely a lens that should stay in your camera bag in case your main lens fails to work on a shooting day. For users on a tight budget, this is a great lens that will not let you disappointed by the image quality. As mentioned above, this lens is capable of producing great images and is a perfect step-in stone for beginner photographers wishing to up their game. 

The Review

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